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Harris Teeter has launched the chain-wide HT Home Town program, with the aim of raising consumer awareness of the many local products already on its shelves. The initiative spotlights brands that have local connections to various markets within the Matthews, N.C.-based grocer’s footprint, enabling shoppers to support their communities by purchasing these items.
“As more and more grocers spread their footprint across each other’s markets, it’s important to recognize the few long-standing commitments of a truly ‘local’ brand,” explained Bob Shaw, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based brand development firm Concentric, which came up with the HT Home Town concept. “Harris Teeter and the 33 brands in its Home Town program are part of the fabric of our area, and Concentric is proud to bring their interconnected stories to life.”
A recent Concentric study found that 77 percent of Harris Teeter shoppers would be more likely to buy an item if they knew that it had been produced locally; however many of those shoppers weren’t aware that Harris Teeter already offered a large number of local brands. Hence, the idea for HT Home Town was born.
Among the program’s featured brands are such familiar names as Cheerwine, Krispy Kreme, Duke’s Mayonnaise, Mt. Olive and House-Autry Mills. HT Home Town also includes other brands that shoppers may not realize are local, however, such as Counter Culture coffee, Tenda-Bake Pancake mixes, Margaret Holmes canned vegetables, The New Primal jerky, and even – somewhat counterintuitively – Texas Pete hot sauce, which actually hails from Winston-Salem, N.C. Other brands, while not based in the Southeast, maintain significant operations there, including White Plains, N.Y.-based Sabra, which has a Gold LEED-certified facility in Richmond, Va., and also provides the local community with an on-site organic garden and courses in cooking and nutrition, and Montvale, N.J.-based Eight O’Clock Coffee, whose Landover, Md., manufacturing team conducts sustainability initiatives such as a coffee-composting program in which the compost is used at local farms and colleges to grow produce for the community.
“[We] expect the program to highlight the extensive number of locally produced products available to our valued shoppers on a regular basis,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “Our end goal is to feature the various ways Harris Teeter supports local communities, not only through important community service initiatives, but also through the products our buyers carefully select for each department.”
The yearlong, multichannel initiative encompasses not only traditional media like out-of-home, radio, print and FSI, but also digital advertising, Pandora and social media targeting Millennials. In-store execution includes promotional displays, custom Home Town point-of- sale materials, flysheets, Home Town identification within weekly eVIC (loyalty program) alerts and brand-story inclusions within Dish, Harris Teeter’s in-store magazine.
From 2014 through 2016, the chain presented its annual Carolina Charm program in July and August, spotlighting brands from that region.
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co., Harris Teeter employs about 30,000 associates at stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and Washington, D.C.